Digital TV players seek NBTC financial relief

Corporate March 11, 2014 00:00

By Watchiranont Thongtep
The Nat

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Some digital terrestrial TV operators yesterday called on the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to provide some financial relief to support their business during the roll-out of the network.

“As the biggest spender, we invested more than Bt6.47 billion on acquiring licences to run three digital terrestrial TV channels for high-definition variety, standard-definition variety, and children and families. But the digital TV network will not yet be up and ready for all people in the first two years, so it would be nice if the NBTC understood and offered us a support scheme,” said Surin Krittayaphongphun, executive vice president of Bangkok Entertainment Co, the operator of Channel 3.
The NBTC should offer to waive the annual licence fee and annual contribution to the commission’s Research and Development Fund in the first two years of operation, he said. 
Normally, a digital terrestrial TV broadcaster must pay 2 per cent of gross income for the annual licence fee and 2 per cent for the fund. 
It appears that in the first two years, the new system will reach only some key areas, he said. 
According to the NBTC, four digital-network operators have targeted covering 50 per cent of all 22 million households by this June and 80 per cent in two years. 
Surin was speaking at a seminar on the “Future of the Thai TV Industry”, organised by the Superboard, whose mandate is to evaluate the performance of the NBTC. This event was part of the evaluation and follow-up on the Broadcasting Master Plan 2012-16. 
Adisak Limprungpatanakij, president of Nation Broadcasting Corporation, said that to ensure a level playing field, the NBTC should fix the exact timeline of the analog switch-off because market leaders like Channel 3 and Channel 7 were still on the analog TV platform.
“Channel numbers for cable and satellite TV platforms should be the same as for terrestrial TV platform to simplify things for viewers,” he said. 
Suphap Kleekachai, news director at THV, a subsidiary of the publisher of “TV Poll”, and the chairman of the digital TV business club, said the NBTC should support a public-awareness campaign for digital terrestrial TV and the benefits from this new service. 
Songsak Premsuk, president of Voice TV, said the NBTC should be supportive in terms of content development as the watchdog had raised more than Bt50 billion from the recent spectrum auction of 24 commercial digital terrestrial TV licences.